Just when you thought you had attended every type of meeting of every type of society, you find yourself invited to the 1956 Annual Quiche Breakfast of The Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein! And they even give you a name tag!
On opening night for Tiny Engine Theatre Company’s July 23-26 and July 30-Aug. 2 production of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche at Durham’s Common Ground Theatre, we were waiting in the lobby for the play to start when Wren Robin (played Noelle Barnard Azarelo) burst into the room to welcome us. Handing us each a name tag, she spoke to us by our just-given names. She also engaged us in bits of small-talk, playing nicely off of the answers that some of us gave to her questions.
With the mood thus set by Azarelo’s high-octane energy, we were invited to enter. We thought we were entering a theater; actually, we were entering the meeting room for The Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein, a basement room in the community center that we soon learn had been designed and built as a bunker in case of nuclear attack. Lucky for us! Midway into this meeting, the Russians do drop the bomb; and we just might be the sole surviving humans on the face of the planet.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. This society celebrates the power of womanhood. It was founded by a woman in the wilderness who stumbled across a colony of hens. She faced and defeated adversity, coining the slogan: “Deal with it.” Eggs are now holy; the Quiche Breakfast is a sacred ritual, a communion, if you will.
Perhaps, we should point out that there has been a contest — nearly 50 women have entered quiches, and the society’s five officers are about to sample the winner. This sequence is especially hilarious!
The “five lesbians” in the title describe themselves as “widows.” They are the officers of our society: Lulie Stanwyck (our President), Vern Schulz, Ginny Cadbury, Dale Prist, and Wren Robin — played, respectively, by Laurel Ullman, Liz Webb, Erica Heilmann, Pimpila Violette, and Noelle Barnard Azarelo. There is one more named character, a former officer, now disgraced. Although we cannot actually see her, she is sitting among us; and there is never any doubt about the pecking order here.
It is also worth noting that this society that we have joined has a motto: “No men. No meat. All manners.” Allowing meat to enter a quiche would border on blasphemy.
Are there double entendres in this play? You bet. Is quiche a metaphor for anything? Uh-huh.
The costumes (designed by Rachel McKay) are excellent. Just like the set (designed by Faye Goodwin), they fairly scream 1956 at us. Nora Kelly supplied the props that include at least one actual quiche and some impressive original art by Sylvia Freeman.
Written by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood and directed by Paul Sapp, 5 Lesbians is just over an hour of delightful absurdity. Be ready to laugh nearly non-stop, but don’t be surprised if you discover that Quiche is also food-for-thought.
NOTE: There will be an encore presentation of 5 Lesbians Eating Quiche at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19th, at The Carolina Theatre of Durham This performance will be presented as part of the theater’s 20th annual North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which runs Aug. 14-22.
SECOND OPINION: July 24th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article28510864.html; July 22nd Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: here; and July 15th Raleigh, NC ArtsNow preview by Rachel Berry: http://artsnownc.com/2015/07/15/preview-tiny-engine-5-lesbians-eating-a-quiche/.
Tiny Engine Theatre Company presents 5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE at 8 p.m. July 25, 2 p.m. July 26, 8 p.m. July 30-Aug. 1, and 2 p.m. Aug 2 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705; plus an encore presentation, presented as part of the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at The Carolina Theatre of Durham, in Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan, St., Durham, North Carolina 27701. TICKETS: Common Ground Theatre Shows: $17.55 ($13.41 students with ID, seniors 65+, and active-duty military personnel) (Note: Both ticket prices include fees). The Carolina Theatre Show: $15. BOX OFFICE: Common Ground Theatre Shows: 919-578-1654, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1659071. The Carolina Theatre Show: 919-560-3030 or https://oss.ticketmaster.com/. SHOW: Common Ground Theatre Shows: http://www.tinyenginetheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/events/407481442786060/, and http://cgtheatre.com/events. The Carolina Theatre Show: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/events/5-lesbians-eating-quiche. PRESENTER: http://www.tinyenginetheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/tinyenginetheatre, and https://twitter.com/tinyengine1. VENUES: Common Ground Theatre: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919 (directions/parking: http://www.cgtheatre.com/directions. The Carolina Theatre of Durham: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaTheatreDurham, and https://twitter.com/CarolinaDurham (directions/parking: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/directions). OTHER LINKS: 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (2011 comedy): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/9940/5-lesbians-eating-a-quiche (Samuel French), http://thenewcolony.org/view/5_lesbians_eating_a_quiche ((The New Colony), and http://evanlinder.com/project/5-lesbians-eating-a-quiche/ (Evan Linder). Evan Linder (playwright): http://evanlinder.com/ (official website), http://thenewcolony.org/people/evan_linder (The New Colony bio), http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsL/linder-evan.html (Doollee.com: The Playwrights Database). Andrew Hobgood (playwright): http://thenewcolony.org/people/andrew_hobgood (The New Colony bio) and http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsH/hobgood-andrew.html (Doollee.com: The Playwrights Database). Paul Sapp (Durham, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/paul.sapp.71 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.